Around eight students stood outside the University Center protesting Thursday as part of the Student Walk-Out movement. This was probably hard to notice considering the three bake sales at the PGH breezeway, the Carnaval of Cultures at the Butler Plaza and the job fair at the Cougar Den.
The protestors played drumsticks on PVC buckets, talked through a megaphone and held up a meter tall banner of giant burnt-orange letters reading “STUDENT WALKOUT 12 PM.”
Carl Gibson, a history senior, shouted lines from the megaphone such as “Walk-out or get walked on.”
The protestors referenced The Daily Cougar several times, including the coverage of the alleged voter fraud in the Student Government Association elections and the story on the alleged unfair promotion of the yes vote for the stadium referendum. They gave out information leaflets and listed numerous grievances.
“These are all issues that affect us,” Gibson said. “Did you know that the average student debt for a UH graduate is in excess of $15,000?”
Most UH students obviously did not walk-out and even those who witnessed the protestors simply passed through the UC with little regard. Student protestors in other parts of the country may have been more successful.
By 12:30 p.m., the protestors picked up their banner and marched to the grass near the Cullen Performance Hall. Hundreds of students walked by, some on their way to the M.D. Anderson Library, and others on their way to the UC. Some students went to the Carnaval of Culture to enjoy the booths and food kiosks while others just headed to class.
“They just look. I think some of them are afraid,” said Jorge Lugo, a technical engineering junior involved in the protest.
This did not deter the student walk-out — eight members and all. Protests allegedly took place nationwide, so even if the vast majority of UH students were too busy in the rat race to “fight the system,” there should have been plenty of other students ready to bring on Occupy Wall Street 2.0 — right?
A look online showed similar results to the UH walkout. Students in schools scattered across the nation left class in protest of all the problems with public education, but as everyone can see, Monday has arrived and it’s business as usual.
What does it say about public opinion when a campus with more than 38,000 students has less than a dozen students protesting? Thousands of students in Houston continued their daily routines during the walk-out, and millions in the nation decided to stay in class.
UH has problems of course: Rising tuition, cuts in state funding and cut-throat textbook brokers.
But this is the concrete status quo of public education. Did the protestors think a half-hearted walk-out was going to change it?
David Haydon is a political science senior and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org